Jack White has long flirted with the country music genre, but up until now that flirtation had been limited to his production work and light-hearted album closers.
On Lazaretto, his country influences have been given equal billing with his garage rock, and while White has always restlessly flitted between genres, it’s a strange fit.
Given White’s jokey treatment of his own country interludes on previous solo and White Stripes albums, it is a little difficult to take the four or five country-influenced songs on Lazaretto seriously at first. Songs like Entitlement and Just One Drink only sound out of place alongside the furious screeching of other tracks.
Luckily, when White reverts to what he does best he’s in rare form. The title track and instrumental High Ball Stepper are reminders of his virtuoso status, while the gloriously demented That Black Bat Licorice is all the better for its baffling and nonsensical lyrics. The highlight of the album may just be Would You Fight For My Love? which finds White at his most impassioned and personal, railing furiously against love lost.
Lazaretto is something of a bipolar album, and while its country touches take some getting used to, White has rarely been better when he plugs the guitar back in.